Mary Kuykendall goes back to her roots along the South Branch of the Potomac River in West Virginia for this collection of short stories based on characters struggling for survival in a world which appears indifferent as they face adverse and social conditions beyond their control. River Roots' stories interrelate to give one a total view of river valley life, then and now. In some ways, the Hampshire County she grew up in reminds her of Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County, in which man, in his essential nobility, sometimes repudiates himself in all his reprehensible weakness. But mostly she hopes she has captured some of Wendell Berry's love of land and the family farmer's innate respect for it.
"No one has written about race horses as beautifully and evocatively as Lyn Lifshin has done in this book on the tragic career of Barbaro and in her paean to the immortal Ruffian, The Licorice Daughter: My Year With Ruffian. Lifshin has been described by one reviewer as "frightening[ly] prolific," but, though that is an accurate description to be sure, her prolificacy does not in the least diminish the profundity and charming accessibility of her poems. Lifshin's observations of the unexpected rise and agonizing fall of Barbaro are acute and charged with empathy. These poems imbue the memory of Barbaro with a heroism that is exquisite and rare, a quality that is sorely lacking in this modern age of prosaic anxiety and despair." - Joe LaRosa
The poems in Call and Response are the record of a friendship, conversations in verse with topics as varied and diverse as fine art and the traditions of southern Louisiana. The poems created here are a drawing out of the love and respect they have for each other and for the things they share with the world. It is an exchange in the tradition of artists like Homer and Lady Murasaki, as well as in the common traditions of work songs sung by field workers throughout "This exquisite collaboration by two of our state's finest poets is a gift of extraordinary spiritual dimension." -The Times-Picayune
A Week on the Chunky and Chickasawhay is D.C. Berry's log of a solo canoe expedition, one August week, down the Chunky and Chickasawhay creeks in eastern Mississippi. Along the way he recorded what happened on the creeks, the area history, and what crossed his mind pertaining to the god of that day. Saturday, for instance, is Saturn's day, the god of the hoe and of the hoedown. Sunday, the Sun's day, god of religion, philosophy, and of jive. Monday, the Moon's day, god of women, children, and otherness. Tuesday, Tiu's day, god of war, Wednesday, Wodan's day, god of art. Thursday, Thor's day, god of bossiness. Friday, Freyja's day, goddess of love.
Taking the Switchback is a collection of poems that stretches across North America, from the Rockies to the beaches of South Carolina, touching many places in between. It is a book that peers into the hearts of individuals, into the pulse of neighborhoods, and, most poignantly, into the relationships between men and women and between the human spirit and the sublime or, perhaps, the divine.
Time Capsules is Kendall Dunkelberg's second full-length collection of poetry. In it he explores themes of love, marriage, and fatherhood against the backdrop of contemporary American life, ranging from his childhood home in Iowa to Mississippi, where he has lived for the past 15 years. Cross-country travel to Massachusetts, New Mexico, Alabama, and Georgia, as well as a honeymoon in Spain, also informs his vision. These poems traverse myth and memory through cycles of nature and culture, life and death, to arrive at tranquil, if tenuous, sense of equilibrium.
"The poems in The Last Resort fall thematically into four or fie overlapping silos: poems about the making of poems; about time's abrasions; about nature's benign/malevolent indifference; about the cultural tattoos of growing up in the Mississippi Delta; about women, guilt, and love; about the inescapable separateness of the first-person pronoun. The unifying sensibility is the 'I' that got us in this fortunate human mess in the first place. Turned horizontally, it is a barbell that grows heavier with time, making the poems a series of psychological bench presses. In the absence of a Spotter the weight is lightened only by irony, a comic self-consciousness, and ultimately acceptance." -Jack Crocker
Basic Heart is a primer on the emotional topography of the human heart, its complexities and fluctuations, its nuances and metaphors. From tropes grounded in the fantastic landscapes of awareness, of desire and despair, Ashley draws us a map of a world and shows us just how that "world is turned like a pig on a spit." She brings us back to the recognition that we are all ordinary, that sometimes we need saving, and that "what is saved just might turn beautiful."